Thinking Anglicans

LGBTI Mission responds to shared conversations

This press release was issued yesterday by LGBTI Mission:

LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion (see text below) awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.

An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation (see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118) to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

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Susannah Clark
Guest

“of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes…”

This is essential, and it is admirable that the LGBTI mission has enshrined it as a principle in its message here.

If we on the progressive side want our consciences respected, with the right to affirm and practice equality regardless of sexual orientation… then we should also champion and defend the sincere consciences of those who take the opposite view on human sexuality.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The Blackburn motion is a really decent and precious proposal. When a person steps out on the extremely vulnerable path of gender transition… they desperately need community that welcomes and affirms them. They are likely to face significant social pressures: employers may shun them (even if it’s the informal shunning of somehow not quite shortlisting them); family may reject them and psychologically abuse them; they may be rejected again and again when they try to rent accommodation; they face verbal abuse on the street almost for sure, and the day by day threat of physical abuse; and in addition, the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Simon

One thing that needs to be on the LGBTI Mission list is a process for changing baptismal records for people who get a Gender Recognition Certificate. It’s probably as contentious as same sex marriage but it is a barrier to some who might otherwise enter ministry.

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

When there are so many churches, and such a wide swath of religious communities who share the right-wing view of sexuality, mission and authority, how are they *not* being given adequate provision? Simply because they might have to leave to be themselves? As I recall, they weren’t keen on offering adequate provision when the liberal view was the minority, but told us to go to the MCC or lie about who we are, and those were the options. It isn’t about revenge, but they should be willing to extend the same patience and good grace we’ve extended for the 30… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

David Cameron had a desire for the Conservative Party to stop “Banging on about Europe” – some hope.
Similarly I feel that Justin Welby may have had a desire that as a result of the “Shared Conversations” the Church of England would stop “Banging on about Homosexuality”

Disgraceful
Guest
Disgraceful

No Susannah: “If we on the progressive side want our consciences respected, with the right to affirm and practice equality regardless of sexual orientation… then we should also champion and defend the sincere consciences of those who take the opposite view on human sexuality.” What is the opposite view on human sexuality held by those whose consciences we should champion and defend? Maybe those of us who want to live in a free society should champion and defend the consciences of those who want to engage in the slave trade? Never! This is not how social progress is made, it… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I will not defend or champion the consciences of those who want to treat me with less respect than they expect for themselves.” – Disgraceful I occupy an halfway house position. As a church we MUST avoid discrimination and SHOULD accommodate individual consciences. That shows how the two need to be reconciled. One possible way forwards is to move entirely to team parishes and be very clear to all parishioners who will and won’t conduct same sex marriages, with the condition that those who won’t MUST be in the numerical minority. It would take some time to organise which is… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Never! This is not how social progress is made, it is not how we got as far as we have in the field of LGBTI rights or any other rights. I will not defend or champion the consciences of those who want to treat me with less respect than they expect for themselves.” This is the problem. I don’t have the answer. TEC lets priests and congregations opt out of SSM. It is a detente, and at this point the anti-marriage crowd is a small minority in TEC. I’m married, as are plenty of other LGBTQI people. I’m sure none… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

@ Disgraceful. I support the full inclusion of LBGTI people in the life of the church. And I agree with Susannah’s comment. That’s the way to progress on this issue for the church.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Pam, I disagree with you because I don’t think this is about the church any more than I think it is about individuals’ consciences which is why I disagree with Susannah. Even a month ago I might have agreed with you both but I don’t even any longer think it is about same sex marriage. For me it is that we owe Jesus a church where everyone is equal. It shouldn’t matter what people earn, whether they come to church regularly or just occasionally, what they have done no matter how heinous it might seem to secular society, or whom… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

“That’s the way to progress on this issue for the church.”

That isn’t progress. It’s politics. It’s dishonest. It is the very same “house divided against itself” we were warned of, and the reason no one wants much to do with religion any longer. You can’t claim support if you’re busy creating a place and a platform for the right-wing to launch attacks on us.

You have to stand for something, or you’ll stand for anything.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Essentially, the power structure has to favor inclusion with an opt out for conservatives.”

Agreed. I don’t support the idea that there will be “no marriage equality in PERPETUITY” dioceses and/or approved seminaries (w/ ordination tracks). Grace periods for specific persons’ consciences, Yes. Church-within-a-Church, No.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Mark
Thank you for your comments.

My own position has shifted somewhat from instinctively sensing that a compromise based on individual conscience is wrong, to understanding why it is wrong. I think your comments on various threads over several weeks have really informed that advancement. I know change in one, irrelevant person who already supported same sex marriage is a tiny thing for you, other than perhaps knowing that words online can change minds, but still thank you.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Kate & Mark: Are we one church or different denominations? Are we grateful to those who work ecumenically?

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

We are different families within one church. The claim that we are EITHER one church OR different denominations is a false dichotomy. Ecumenical work is useful for service, but nonsense for trying to make one household out of many very different families.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Kate, I don’t consider *anyone* irrelevant – which is part of the reason I don’t think it right or fair to *any* of us to try to create some Frankenstein’s Church of views that each side considers insupportable. If I live in a house with someone, and they are tearing at my personhood, denying my faith, assaulting my will to live, then that is not a house to remain in. They are relevant. I move to another house, and those people are still relevant, but no longer in a position to do harm to me. In fact, having the distance… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Pam

Far better instead to articulate what principles we believe in.

For me it is very simple, it is not for the church to come between anyone and Jesus in *any* temple (church building) to limit their participation in any worship or rite. I suspect that instinctively most conservatives understand that principle which is why they tend to argue about the definition of marriage.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Thanks for your answer to my question Mark. The church can be described in many ways: the people of God, a servant people, the body of Christ, and the community of the Spirit. None of that implies separation from each other. We all fall short in love for each other but we can keep trying.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Pam, are you “seperate” from your extended family because you live in separate dwellings? Are Roman Catholics “separate” from the God which is *our* Father because their household is separate and differently-ordered than ours?

Pam
Guest
Pam

I am separated from my extended family by distance, not emotional ties. If believers distance themselves from each other by not trying to work together, by making their ‘issues’ more important than solidarity, then we do separate ourselves from God. We’re all in the same boat. 🙂

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

I think your understanding of Church is far too parochial and your understanding of human ability in a fallen world rather sanguine! We cooperate with others outside our churches – outside our faith – to bring Christ’s kingdom. The only ones promoting an issue over that task focus on the issue of binding those of different function into one artificial ecclesial structure, rather than letting go to their own home and cooperating where vocations intersect. This death-grip destroys Peace, undermines faith, hope, and charity, and obstructs vocation, focusing on a narrow issue!

Pam
Guest
Pam

Thanks for the discussion Mark. I hope you mean sanguine in the “cheerfully optimistic” sense rather than the more archaic “bloody or blood thirsty”. May I recommend Paul Tillich’s great sermon “You Are Accepted” – he explores the themes of sin and grace. Shalom.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Thank you, Pam. Yes, sanguine in the sense of cheerfully optimistic. Tillich is valuable in helping us to relate to God, but that’s not what I mean about a fallen world. In this dream of One Church, one focuses on human ability. God has already made Church, and it is one, though in different homes and disciplines. To try to hold people in one structure when they are fundamentally different in their faith, to deny the rightness of separation to pursue God’s calling to us individually, is vanity, an insistence on human effort over divine grace. It is also impossible.… Read more »